ANTI BULLYING POLICY
Every student at Mesarya Education House has the right to enjoy learning, free from intimidation both in MEH and the surrounding community.
These same rights and expectations apply to residential students in the boarding premises and living environment.
The institution community will not tolerate bullying behaviour of any kind including unkind actions or remarks, verbal taunting and exclusion from groups, under any circumstances.
This ethos will be communicated throughout the institution by the attitudes and actions of all members of the institution community.
Aims of Policy
- Members of MEH are aware of the nature and types of bullying that may arise and members of staff in particular are aware of any areas of the institution including boarding facilities that pose a threat to students.
- Members of staff take appropriate action to reduce any threats identified and effect all changes to the institution and boarding environment which may be necessary to negate bullying
- Members of the institution create a caring community where no student need fear intimidation by promoting an “open-listening” ethos and encouraging students to support one another by reporting all instances of bullying.
The social, moral, spiritual and cultural development of the individual and the community is further developed.
- A clear and widely understood procedure is implemented for staff to follow in investigating incidents allowing for firm and prompt action to be taken where bullying is identified,
The Nature of Bullying
A number of different definitions of bullying exist, but most include reference to it being:
- Deliberately hurtful (including aggression)
- Repeated often over a period of time, and
- Difficult for victims to defend themselves against
Bullying exists in many different forms, but three main types are:
- Physical – hitting, kicking and taking belongings
- Verbal – name calling, insulting, making offensive remarks
- Indirect – spreading nasty stories about someone, exclusion from social groups, being made the subject of malicious rumours, sending malicious emails or text messages on mobile phones
Name-calling is considered to be the most common direct form.
This may be the result of individual characteristics, but students can be called nasty names because of their ethnic origin, nationality or colour, sexual orientation, or because of some form of disability.
Factors contributing to Bullying
A number of factors are thought to make bullying more likely. These include:
- Lacking close friends in the institution
- Being shy
- An over-protective family environment
- Being from a different racial or ethnic group to the majority
- Being different in some obvious respect – such as stammering
- Having Special Educational Needs or a disability
- Behaving inappropriately, intruding or being a “nuisance”
- Possessing expensive accessories such as mobile phones or computer games
Bullying by Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation or Disability Racist Bullying
In racist bullying, a child is targeted for representing a group, and attacking the individual sends a message to that group.
Racist bullying is therefore likely to hurt not only the victim, but also other students from the same group, and their families.
Sexual bullying impacts on both genders.
Boys are also victims – of girls and other boys.
It is characterized by abusive name calling, looks and comments about appearance, attractiveness, emerging puberty, inappropriate and uninvited touching, sexual innuendoes and propositions, pornographic material, graffiti with sexual content and, in its most extreme form, sexual assault or rape.
Bullying as a result of having Special Educational Needs or Disabilities
Students with Special Educational Needs or disabilities may not be able to articulate experiences as well as other students.
They are, however, often at greater risk of being bullied, both directly and indirectly, and usually about their specific difficulties or disability.
The role of the institution’s Personal, Social and Health Education Programme
Mesarya Education House’s programme includes anti-bullying issues both directly and indirectly.
The content of the programme covers the nature of bullying behaviour and related areas such as self-assertiveness and responsibility towards others.
A variety of different teaching and learning styles are used in these classes, including group work and role-play to assist students in developing their self-awareness, responsibility towards others and respect for others.
The development of these skills is considered as crucial to the anti-bullying ethos of the institution and to fostering a strong community atmosphere.
Courses of Action in Response to Bullying
- Anyone can and should report any bullying incident – whether they are a passer-by, a victim or a bully.
- At the beginning of each academic year, students will be informed that someone wishing to report an incident of bullying can approach any member of staff with whom they feel comfortable.
If the matter is urgent, a student should approach the first adult they see.
- All staff are expected to be willing and ready to deal with any incident that is brought to their attention.
If appropriate, a member of staff will handle the situation on their own. If circumstances dictate, a member of the Senior Management Team will be consulted.
The latter will take responsibility for deciding who is best equipped to deal with the situation.
- When consulted about a bullying incident the member of staff dealing with the incident will interview separately the victim, the bully and any witnesses in order to establish an accurate account of events.
In the first instance, it is important to make it clear to the victim that revenge is not appropriate and to the bully that his/her behaviour is unacceptable, and has caused distress
- The incident must be written up and the Vice Principal copied in, whether the incident occurs in institution or in the boarding premises. Parents will be informed when appropriate by the Vice Principal or Head of Section.
- Sanctions for bullying will remain at the discretion of the Senior Management Team following full briefing on the Such decisions will be made in conjunction with the staff member(s) involved.
Sanctions include the following: withdrawal of privileges, referral to senior staff, letter home to parents, a record of the incident on file, a good behaviour contract, detentions and possibly exclusion in the case of serious and persistent bullying.
- There will be a uniform but flexible approach to deciding on the sanctions for bullying.
All factors will be considered including the nature of the incident and any previous involvement in similar offensive acts.
While all sanctions for bullying will be seriously imposed it may, on occasions, be more appropriate for the perpetrator to attend counselling instead.
Curricular Approaches to Bullying
Teaching staff are encouraged to use the curriculum and tutor periods to:
- Raise awareness about bullying and the Anti-Bullying Policy
- Increase understanding for victims, and help foster an anti-bullying ethos
- Teach students how to constructively manage their relationships with others Mesarya Education House’s programme has an important role in this regard.
Partnership with Parents and Guardians
If a parent or guardian thinks their child is being bullied they should contact MEH immediately.
They should, in the first instance, approach the child’s personal tutor or the Head of Year.
In the event that neither is available, they should ask to speak with the Vice Principal.
Parents and guardians should also encourage their child to talk to a trusted teacher about the bullying incidents.
The institution’s normal course of action can be followed from this point.
All staff in the institution, including administrative staff, play an important role in communicating the anti- bullying ethos of the institution community.
Key points to remember about dealing with suspected bullying
All staff are reminded to:
- Never ignore suspected bullying
- Never make premature assumptions
- Always listen carefully to all accounts – several students saying the same thing does not necessarily mean they are telling the truth
- Adopt a problem-solving approach which moves students on from justifying themselves
- Follow-up repeatedly, checking that bullying has not resumed
Suggested Key Resources for Staff
Bullying – Don’t Suffer in Silence – an anti-bullying pack for MEH
Cyber Bullying Policy
See also Anti-Bullying Policy.
The Anti-Bullying Policy and the Anti-Cyber bullying Policy should both be understood in the context of the Behaviour and Discipline policy and Equal Opportunities Policy, and are available on the MEH website.
Mesarya Education House recognises that technology plays an important and positive role in student’s lives, both educationally and socially.
This is particularly so in boarding where mobile phones and skype are common ways of students having privacy to contact home.
It is committed to helping all members of the institution community to understand both the benefits and the risks, and to equip children with the knowledge and skills to be able to use technology safely and responsibly.
The aims of this policy are to ensure that:
- students, staff and parents are educated to understand what cyber bullying is and what its consequences can be;
- policies and procedures are in place to prevent incidents of cyber bullying in the institution or within the institution community;
- we have effective measures to deal effectively with cases of cyber bullying;
- we monitor the effectiveness of prevention measures.
1.2 What is cyber bullying?
Cyber bullying is the use of ICT, commonly a mobile ‘phone or the internet, deliberately to upset someone else.
It can be used to carry out all the different types of bullying; an extension of face-to face bullying. However unlike ‘traditional’ forms of bullying it can have a greater impact because:
it can also go further, in that it can invade home/personal space and can involve a greater number of people;
- the anonymity of the bully;
- it can take place across age groups and MEH staff and other adults can be targeted;
- the ability to broadcast upsetting messages and images rapidly to a potentially huge audience and to continue to do so repeatedly over a long period of time;
- it can draw bystanders into being accessories.
Cyber bullying includes:
- threats and intimidation; harassment or ‘cyber-stalking’;
- vilification/defamation; exclusion or peer rejection; impersonation;
- unauthorised publication of private information or images (‘happy-slapping’).
- Preventing Cyber bullying
2.1 Understanding and discussion
- All staff will be helped to keep up-to-date with the technologies that children are using.
- The students will be involved in developing and communicating a code of advice on protecting themselves from getting caught up in cyber bullying and on reporting cases they experience.
They will have a voice through MEH Council and tutors
2.2 Policies and practices
- Ensure regular review and update of existing policies to include cyber bullying where appropriate.
- Provide opportunities for policies to be addressed and for children to be involved in the process of updating and improving them through the Student Council.
- Keep good records of all cyber bullying incidents.
- Publicise rules and sanctions effectively in code of conduct.
2.3 Promoting the positive use of technology
- Make positive use of technology across the curriculum.
- Use CPD opportunities to help staff develop their practice creatively and support students in safe and responsible use.
- Explore ways of using technology to support assertiveness, self-esteem and to develop friendships.
- Ensure all staff and children understand the importance of password security and the need to log out of accounts.
Use of filtering systems to prevent access to inappropriate sites
2.4 Making reporting easier
- Ensure staff can recognise non-verbal signs and indications of cyber bullying.
- Publicise and promote the message that asking for help is the right thing to do and shows strength and good judgement.
- Publicise to all members of the institution community the ways in which cyber bullying can be reported.
- Provide information for ‘bystanders’ including reassurances about protection from becoming victims themselves.
- Provide information on external reporting routes g. mobile phone company, internet service provider, Childline.
- Responding to Cyber bullying
Most cases of cyber bullying will be dealt with through the MEH’s existing Anti-bullying Policy and Behaviour Policy.
Some features of cyber bullying differ from other forms of bullying and may prompt a particular response.
The key differences are:
- impact: the scale and scope of cyber bullying can be greater than other forms of bullying
- targets and perpetrators: the people involved may have a different profile to traditional bullies and their targets
- location: the 24/7 and ‘anywhere’ nature of cyber bullying
- anonymity: the person being bullied will not always know who is bullying them
- motivation: some students may not be aware that what they are doing is bullying
- evidence: unlike other forms of bullying, the target of the bullying will have evidence of its occurrence
It is possible that a member of staff may be a victim and these responses apply to them too.
3.1 Support for the person being bullied:
- Offer emotional support; reassure them that they have done the right thing in telling.
- Advise the person not to retaliate or reply.
Instead, keep the evidence and take it to their parent or a member of staff.
- Advise the person to consider what information they have in the public domain.
- Unless the victim sees it as a punishment, they may be advised to change e.g. mobile phone number.
- If hurtful or embarrassing content is being distributed, try to get it removed from the web.
If the person who posted it is known, ensure they understand why it is wrong and ask them to remove it.
Alternatively, contact the host provider and make a report to get the content taken down.
- Confiscate mobile phone, ask student to delete the offending content and say who they have sent it on to.
- Contact the police in cases of actual/suspected illegal content.
- In some cases, the person being bullied may be able to block the person bullying from their sites and services
- Staff and students should be advised to preserve evidence and a record of abuse; save phone messages, record or save-and-print instant messenger conversations, print or produce a screen grab of social network pages, print, save and forward to staff whole email messages.
- If images are involved, determine whether they might be illegal or raise child protection concerns.
If so, contact the local police.
In any event the Vice Principal should be informed immediately
- Identify the bully.
- Any allegations against staff should be handled as other allegations following guidance in Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education.
3.3 Working with the bully and applying sanctions
The aim of the sanctions will be:
- to help the person harmed to feel safe again and be assured that the bullying will stop.
- to hold the perpetrator to account, getting them to recognise the harm caused and deter them from repeating the behaviour.
- to demonstrate to the institution community that cyber bullying is unacceptable and that the institution has effective ways of dealing with it, so deterring others from behaving similarly.
In applying sanctions, consideration must be given to type and impact of bullying and the possibility that it was unintentional or was in retaliation.
The outcome must include helping the bully to recognise the consequence of their actions and providing support to enable the attitude and behaviour of the bully to change.
3.4 Evaluating the effectiveness of prevention measures
- Use the MEH Council to hear the students’ point of view.
- Identify areas for improvement and incorporate children’s ideas.
3.5 Legal duties and powers
- Mesarya Education House has a duty to protect all its members and provide a safe, healthy environment.
- Deans in MEH have the power ‘to such extent as is reasonable’ to regulate the conduct of students when they are off-site or not under the control or charge of a member of staff (Education and Inspections Act 2006).
- MEH staff may request a student to reveal a message or other phone content and may confiscate a phone; staff may search the contents of a student’s phone given that the institution’s Code of Conduct expressly states that right.
- Some cyber bullying activities could be criminal offences under a range of different laws including Protection from Harassment Act 1997.